If you want your life to be different in 2013, then make a plan to 'Partner UP.'
Over my last 30 years as a financial advisor, I have made it a habit to intentionally surround myself with people who are smarter, amazing to sit next to, fascinating to listen to, and always make life more interesting.
I have met some of these people through happenstance at industry conferences. Others I simply read about in a conference brochure, looked them up on the Internet, and attempted to set up a specific time to meet them for a meal during the conference.
I will listen to authors' podcasts and webinars, and if I enjoy their work, I may reach out to them on Facebook or send emails to interview them for articles and other research that I may be conducting at that time.
Many of these individuals are just the regular people that are already part of your current life. They are high school teachers, elementary school coaches, local university instructors, and volunteers at the local chamber of commerce. They are your friends who have lived very interesting lives, or they may even live next door to you.
If you want your life to be different in 2013, then make a point to implement an idea from my book, The 7 Minute Solution: Time Strategies to Prioritize, Organize and Simplify Your Life at Work and at Home. We call it "Partnering UP." Once a month during one of our weekly team meetings, we try to schedule a 30-minute phone appointment with a person from the list below. The term "Partner UP" expresses the hope that they become partners and friends in our success, and they pull us UP in our learning, knowledge, and mental skill sets.
Here is an example list of people to get you started:
1. The greatest salesperson in the world (or at least in your region)
It is usually instantly obvious who the greatest salesperson in your region is, but if it is not, schedule a meeting with your branch manager, your mentor, or your business coach to ask them if they would be willing to help you set up telephone appointments with some of the best salespeople they know. In fact, the branch manager may want to instigate this call as a conference call, so several other financial advisors could hear it.
The first thing you have to understand is that great salespeople value their time as one of their most important commodities. Attempt to be very specific and know precisely what you want to ask. Questions might include:
--What specific daily activities have made you such a great salesperson?
--How are you different from other people in your office?
--What does your team structure look like?
--How do you stay so motivated?
--Can you tell us three secrets to your success that we can immediately implement into our daily work habits?
2. The happiest person
Shawn Achor wrote the best-selling book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. I liked his book so much that I emailed him and asked to personally interview him for my book. After reading his book, I instantly recognized that I could "Partner UP" and learn from his insights and ideas about why happier people have an advantage not only in business but in all of life.
During that interview I asked Shawn, "What is the Happiness Advantage?" and he said, "Happiness gives people and companies a huge competitive advantage. The happiness advantage is the discovery that nearly every single business and educational outcome improves when the brain is positive. When your brain is happier and more positive, it shows higher levels of intelligence, productivity, creativity; you are able to work longer, faster; and people perceive you to be more charismatic. Our brains work better when they are in a positive state of mind."
3. The strategist
Wikipedia gives a great definition of strategy: "Strategy is a general, undetailed plan of action, encompassing a long period of time, to achieve a complicated goal."
I wish I knew where I first was introduced to the importance of having both a short-term and a long-term written business strategy. But at some point in my life, I read or heard someone tell a story about the actions of a strategist. Each morning he would sit down at his desk and write down specifically what he wanted his business to look like five years from now. And as he wrote, he would include small plans of action that drew him closer to achieving those goals.
Imagine the power this tiny action would have on your brain every day! How different would your strategy be if you took just a few minutes each day to think about where you wanted to be five years from now?
4. The visionary with foresight
The financial-services world is an ever-changing place. Wayne Gretzky is famous for saying, "I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been." Gretzky was a hockey visionary with foresight. As I translate this to my work as a financial advisor, I try to think of the obstacles and problems that will have to be worked through for our team to achieve our goals. A visionary is never afraid to look the current issues square in the face and begin to make plans to conquer and overcome those difficulties.
5. The tactical planner
The strategist creates the long-term business goal. The visionary looks at that goal and helps you deeply understand the roads and paths you will need to take to accomplish it (including seeing a realistic view of the obstacles that will stand in your way).
The tactical planner is the person who has the gift to bring these plans to life. He or she fills in the plan by making the important tactical decisions, including the step-by-step monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly action ideas that must be undertaken to accomplish the strategies, goals, and objectives.
Tactical planners are wonderful at creating simple-to-understand, daily written plans of action. They teach people appropriate deadlines for specific projects and tasks, and they hold them accountable to finishing each task.
The financial-services business is not unlike most businesses. The biggest problem is often we are so busy reacting to daily issues that we have not taken scheduled time in our day to think about what we really want to accomplish with our work and our lives. As you visit with some of these people by phone and meet with others in person, you will uncover ideas that will inspire and motivate you to run your business models in just slightly different ways.
The idea of "Partnering UP" with other people has been an inspirational business practice that we have included in our team for years. Your action step is to choose one person to call, and then work toward setting up an appointment to visit with them in person or by phone.